Small businesses all over the world have been affected by the economic downpour caused by COVID-19. Because of social distancing restrictions and businesses that have been deemed non-essential, music venues across America both large and small have been shut down. Smaller venues are at a greater risk because they survive on shows put on by artists to bring in the bulk of their revenue.
An extensive list of artists, namely Bon Iver, Patti Smith, St. Vincent, Lady Gaga, Leon Bridges, Kasey Musgraves and many more have signed a letter to urge congress to follow through with a request for federal assistance put in by the National Independent Venue Association. The letter says, “We are asking you to support NIVA’s request for assistance so these beloved venues can reopen when it’s safe and welcome us and our fans back in. The collapse of this crucial element in the music industry’s ecosystem would be devastating,” with over a thousand small business venues at risk of closing permanently in the U.S. alone.
The letter expresses how big a part music is in our American culture and that many big name artists have gotten their start at these small venues. Artists urge congress in the letter that we have to keep these businesses open to keep the culture alive in America. Epidemiologists have predicted that more than 64% of people will not return to a concert for over a year, meaning that it will be more likely that without Federal assistance small business venues will not be able to reopen.
You can read the letter here:
June 18, 2020
We, the undersigned artists, respectfully submit this letter in support of NIVA’s request for federal assistance for independent music venues and promoters across the United States.
We will know America is “back” when our music venues are filled with fans enjoying concerts safely. The live music experience is inextricably tied to our nation’s cultural and economic fabric. In fact, 53% of Americans – that’s 172 million of us – attended a concert last year.
We urge you to remember we are the nation that gave the world jazz, country, rock & roll, bluegrass, hip hop, metal, blues, and R&B. Entertainment is America’s largest economic export, with songs written and produced by American artists sung in every place on the globe. All of these genres of music, and the artists behind them, were able to thrive because they had neighborhood independent venues to play in and hone their craft, build an audience, and grow into the entertainers that bring joy to millions.
Independent venues give artists their start, often as the first stage most of us have played on. These venues were the first to close and will be the last to reopen. With zero revenue and the overwhelming overhead of rent, mortgage, utilities, taxes and insurance, 90% of independent venues report that if the shutdown lasts six months and there’s no federal assistance, they will never reopen again.
We are asking you to support NIVA’s request for assistance so these beloved venues can reopen when it’s safe and welcome us and our fans back in. The collapse of this crucial element in the music industry’s ecosystem would be devastating.
Independent venues are asking for an investment to secure their future, not a handout. One Chicago report found that every dollar small venues generate in ticket sales results in $12 of economic activity. If these independent venues close forever, cities and towns across America will not only lose their cultural and entertainment hearts, but they will lose the engine that would otherwise be a driver of economic renewal for all the businesses that surround them.
With respect and solidarity, we, as artists and as community members ourselves, urge you to pass federal legislation that will help #SaveOurStages.
Photo Credit: Owen Ela